A Systematic Review of MRI Neuroimaging for Education Research

Ching Lin Wu*, Tzung Jin Lin, Guo Li Chiou, Chia Ying Lee, Hui Luan, Meng Jung Tsai, Patrice Potvin, Chin Chung Tsai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to disclose how the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) neuroimaging approach has been applied in education studies, and what kind of learning themes has been investigated in the reviewed MRI neuroimaging research. Based on the keywords “brain or neuroimaging or neuroscience” and “MRI or diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) or white matter or gray matter or resting-state,” a total of 25 papers were selected from the subject areas “Educational Psychology” and “Education and Educational Research” from the Web of Science and Scopus from 2000 to 2019. Content analysis showed that MRI neuroimaging and learning were studied under the following three major topics and nine subtopics: cognitive function (language, creativity, music, physical activity), science education (mathematical learning, biology learning, physics learning), and brain development (parenting, personality development). As for the type of MRI neuroimaging research, the most frequently used approaches were functional MRI, followed by structural MRI and DTI, although the choice of approach was often motivated by the specific research question. Research development trends show that the neural plasticity theme has become more prominent recently. This study concludes that in educational research, the MRI neuroimaging approach provides objective and empirical evidence to connect learning processes, outcomes, and brain mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number617599
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May 20


  • DTI
  • MRI
  • education research
  • learning
  • neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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